Sunday, April 17, 2011

Elevated HR Solutions: Yup - Let's stick to Simple

Think about all of the urban myths out there. From kidney harvesting to using flour as a burn remedy - they all seem to stick in general. But why is that?  Is there a formula? Well according to Chip and Dan Heath, there is.

After the GrowCo conference and listening to Dan Heath speak live, I decided to re-read the book "Made to Stick".  It's truly amazing how reading a book once, before experiencing anything (in my case, before running a business), is almost like reading a book for the first time on the second round, when you can actually put basic points into practice.

The next few blogs will be an attempt to try and get the idea of "Renegade HR" stuck in the heads of my readers, using the book (in chapter by chapter format) as it's base.  This may turn out to be a disaster in which case, I'm certain I'll abandon this notion sooner than later. But for now, this is the direction I'm going in.

The first chapter in "Made to Stick" is all about making your principle idea, simple.  Not so simple that you're dumbing it down and not so compact that it loses intensity.  But simple enough for people to grab on to and just get. 

Now the notion of HR and simplicity do not typically go hand in hand.  In fact, it may be why I have a business in the first place. But it's not that HR can't be simple, it's more to do with the fact that because it's dealing with people we automatically make it complex.  I agree that "one-size-fits-all" based solutions aren't necessarily the way to go, but honestly, breaking the activity into it's simplest form and trying to figure out the end result desired makes whatever program, practice, or strategy in place simple.

A recent example includes the design of a performance review process:

EHR: Why do you want a performance review?
Client:To provide feedback to employees on both their strengths and areas they can improve on.

EHR: Why formalize it?
Client: So we have a record of improvement. And because the employees want it.

EHR: How often do you want to do it?
Client: I like to think I do it all the time. But formally - once a year.

I provide my client with a simple form - one that can be easily populated with four questions to direct conversation.  The response: That's it? It's just too simple.  I laughed.  We discussed it more, I showed him a few templates and we made it more complicated (we added ranking systems, training plans etc.)  After he went through the entire review process with all of his staff, here was his response:

Client: Can we make it more simple for next year? I think I just want a one pager - the form seems to have taken away from a true conversation and mentorship.

It's funny - the simple form made it seem like it was too simple, and yet that's all they client really wanted in the first place.  We have this need to make things more complex.   HR becomes complex because we get in the way of ourselves.  Forms, policies, procedures don't manage people - managers manage people.  An HR support system just makes it simpler (if you let it be, that is.)

Elevated HR Solutions is a new approach to HR and management.  Stop looking at HR as if it's a heavy task weighing on your shoulders and if you ignore the problem long enough it will just go away.  Unfortunately, people issues don't just disappear and that's when HR starts to get really difficult.  We can help you to simplify your management processes (without getting in the way) - after all, I'm sure you've got better ways to spend your time!

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